Veleno Doré, part of LM Parfums‘ high-end Gold Label Collection, is lovely but also exceedingly familiar. It’s an oriental parfum which is initially centered around vanilla-infused, fruity pipe tobacco, laced with patchouli, enveloped in spices, then drenched in cognac booziness, syrupy sweetness, and caramel ambers. A tiny, early echo of Ambre Loup quickly gives way to major overlaps with Tom Ford‘s Tobacco Vanilla and Roja Dove‘s Enigma Pour Homme/Creation-E and a whisper of Kilian‘s Back to Black, except this is their heavily spiced, chili-flecked brother, and black cherry has been substituted for plums or plum pudding. Over time, woodier, drier, smokier, more leathery, and more woody-ambered elements replace the gourmand-skewing ones for a different twist on tobacco but this, too, feels familiar with echoes of other popular fragrances, like Black Oud and even Black Afgano.
Veleno Doré is an extrait de parfum that was released in summer 2017 as part of LM Parfums’ top-end Gold Label Collection. According to Fragrantica, it was created by Richard Ibanez. He is a Robertet nose who was reportedly behind LM Parfum‘s Black Oud and its sexy Hard Leather, but he is also credited on various fragrance databases (Fragrantica, Parfumo) as being responsible for fragrances from Azzaro, Dunhill, Lalique, Escada, Sonia Rykiel, Grès, Divine, Andrea Maack (Coal), and MDCI (Cuir Garamante).
LM Parfums describes Veleno Doré as a “chypre,” which I find exceedingly odd and perplexing because there is no oakmoss, greenness, citrus, or floralcy of any kind in the fragrance. Do they not know the traditional and long-standing elements which make up a chypre? How could they not, given the actual chypres in their line? So why make such an outlandish claim here? In my opinion, the fragrance is indubitably a tobacco-driven oriental with spicy, gourmand, woody, and ambered components.
Regardless, LM Parfum’s official description of the scent and its notes is as follows:
In the depths of a remote forest, the powerful snake king lurks patiently in the shadows, waiting for his prey. When the king strikes, his victim is turned into gold on contact with his extraordinary venom. Venelo [sic] Doré recounts this ancient tale where, after death, something sublime emerges. This chypre extrait de parfum highlights an exceptional ingredient, tobacco leaf, and dresses it with warm and elegant spicy notes.
Top notes: Rhum, Nutmeg, Pimento [Chili]
Heart notes: Tabacco [sic] Leaf, Patchouli
Base notes: Vanilla, Amber, Red Cherry [Laurent Mazzone’s Premiere Avenue site lists it as “black cherry’]
Veleno Doré opens on my skin with a spicy, dry-sweet, oriental woody bouquet laced with smoke and resins. The initial burst consists of a cloud of rich, dark and minutely fiery spices dominated by piquant chili pepper and bitter, earthy nutmeg, with lesser touches of something resembling cinnamon and cardamom laced within. The spice mix is immediately followed by powerful, gorgeous waves of patchouli that mostly smells boozy and cognac-scented but also bears soft, delicate streaks of woodiness, smokiness, and dark chocolate within.
Together, the two accords weave around the next entrant, and the star of the show: the tobacco. It smells entirely of rich, fragrant pipe tobacco, thanks to the layers of vanilla and fruitiness (black cherry) built into it. Finishing things off is amber, running thick and wild, redolent of caramel-scented benzoin and, to a lesser degree, toffee’d labdanum.
The whole thing is rich in scent but, initially at least, airier than what you might expect from such robust oriental notes. Instead of being dense, chewy, and opaque in feel, the scent cloud during the first 20-25 minutes has a contrasting mix of powerful heft with voluminous airiness, as well as an unexpectedly expansive reach for a pure parfum. (They typically tend to have lesser sillage due to the high concentration of raw materials.)
Veleno Doré shifts quickly. The tobacco grows within minutes, ballooning to become the central, driving note. The patchouli’s boozy, cognac, woody, and chocolate-y strains wrap around it in thick chords, but they are mere handmaidens which serve to accentuate and add complexity to the star note. The same holds true for the spices, black cherry, vanilla, and amber. I’m reminded of a French millefeuille pastry which is formed out of fine layers, repeating and alternating, stacked up one upon another to form a single entity. Here, that entity or net-sum effect is a seamless complement of spicy, fruity, boozy, woody, ambered, fruity, slightly smoky, sweet, dry, and semi-gourmand notes, alternating between repeated layers of pipe tobacco. (If you pretend the photo to the left shows tobacco in lieu of chocolate, has about ten more layers, and includes a large pool of cognac, then you’ll understand both the general effect and the vision in my head.)
Other things come to mind as well. Parts of the opening bouquet is similar to Roja Dove‘s blockbuster cult hit Enigma Pour Homme/Creation-E, except Veleno Doré has a much stronger, more powerful patchouli note and also takes the spice levels up by a factor of ten.
That spiciness, and the chili pepper note which drives it, may be why I’m also reminded every now and then of the top notes and opening stage of Amouage‘s Journey Man. Veleno Doré’s chili pepper, cognac booziness, ambered resins, red fruitiness, and tobacco are roughly similar to those aspects in Journey Man, except Veleno Doré is not as fiery, has no incense, has vanilla instead of tonka, and probably has triple or quadruple the amount of tobacco. At the end of the day, though, the central core of Journey Man is really not a tobacco-centric fragrance, nor is its opening driven by pipe tobacco layered with fruity and vanilla overtones. However, something else is, something which continuously comes to mind during Veleno Doré’s first 2.25 hours: Tom Ford‘s Tobacco Vanille. The difference here is that the LM Parfums’ scent has black cherry in lieu of plum pudding and, initially, it is not as sweet or cloying.
Finally, the interplay of tobacco, dark spices, and resinous amber laced with soft tendrils of smoke, bears small, passing echoes of my beloved Ambre Loup, although here, too, there are major differences. First, Veleno Doré’s tobacco is completely different due to its sweetness, not to mention the fruity and gourmand elements layered within. That brings me to my second point: nothing about Ambre Loup is even remotely gourmand on my skin, while Veleno Doré has a definite gourmand streak running through its first few hours. Third, Veleno Doré has loads and loads of patchouli in lieu of dark musks or soft animalics. Finally, Ambre Loup’s spiciness is different and less fiery, because it has no chili or pimento nor any bitter nutmeg. Its different and more abstract sort of spices combined with its rawer, darker, chewier, and drier tobacco ended up reminded me of an opium/hashish tobacco as opposed to a Tobacco Vanille-style sweet pipe tobacco.
The Ambre Loup echo is only a small, brief one because Veleno Doré’s sweetness levels climb quite quickly and astronomically on my skin. A mere 35 minutes in, the vanilla, black cherry, and caramel-praline benzoin shoot up in force, inundating the tobacco with a torrent of fruity and gourmand syrupiness. I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if the fragrance included huge slugs of ethyl maltol caramel to give further muscle to the benzoin and to what is clearly a sugary vanillin like the sort used in LM Parfum‘s Sensual & Decadent, only this one is less buttery and is not the central force. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Richard Ibanez was the one who made Sensual & Decadent because there are some thematic overlaps, like the gorgeously boozy cognac opening layered with rich, creamy, and sugary vanilla. Red cherry has been substituted for red raspberries or cognac orange, while the larger framework is patchouli-flecked tobacco instead of ylang-ylang floralcy, but I can see the genetic threads linking the two fragrances, both of which are in the Gold Label Collection. (In fact, they are the sole two entries at the moment.)
The force, weight, and thickness of the black cherry, vanilla, and caramel-praline notes have a noticeable effect. The patchouli is replaced as the tobacco’s main partner and is pushed to the sidelines to become a secondary note. At the same time, the spices are swallowed up, becoming a more impressionistic subset of the new syrupy, fruity tobacco-vanilla (or vanilla-tobacco) core. Finally, the fragrance grows thick and heavy in body, losing its former airiness.
The cumulative effect pushes Veleno Doré closer to the Tobacco Vanille and Enigma/Creation-E side of the spectrum, although I’m not saying that they are identical twins in any way. They’re not. For one thing, Veleno Doré is much, much spicier, and that spiciness has a chili-like bite and fieriness at various times. For another, its fruitiness is completely different due to the use of black cherry rather than plum. But, if we focus on the tobacco in all three fragrances and put aside the nuances or different secondary notes, then there are strong overlaps. All the fragrances present a strong core of pipe tobacco enveloped in boozy, fruited, and syrupy sweetness.
The syrupy quality is probably why Kilian‘s Back to Black sometimes comes to mind at this stage as well. The tobacco here is virtually honeyed in its thick stickiness. However, once again, I have to stress that Veleno Doré is hardly identical. For one thing, it is significantly spicier and much more complex. The patchouli continues to be a robust and prominent note; there is a strong boozy accord, backed by far greater degrees of vanillic sweetness; and there is a strong, practically Guerlain-esque (modern Guerlain, I should say) degree of caramel-praline ethyl maltol as well. (It should go without saying that these sweet and heavily gourmand elements put an end to even an iota of similarity between Ambre Loup and Veleno Doré at this point.)
Even if one puts aside the thematic overlap with other fragrances and looks solely at Veleno Doré in a vacuum, my feelings are mixed. On the one hand, it’s a lovely scent which incorporates many of my greatest note loves, and in a beautifully seamless, opulent fashion at that.
On the other hand, the fragrance is far too sweet for my tastes and, as it develops, it starts to feel quite cloying. Admittedly, I have a very low tolerance threshold for sweet scents and I had similar reactions to both Tobacco Vanille and Sensual & Decadent: love at the early scent bouquet quickly turned to a rather horrified recoiling at the surfeit of excess. If you’ve read me for any amount of time, you’ll know just how much I love the heaviest of fragrances (the heavier the better) but, for me, heavy sweetness can turn old quickly, not to mention inducing a little queasiness. Veleno Doré has a surfeit of both heaviness and queasifying sweetness on my skin by the end of the first hour and start of the second. It’s not my cup of tea, no matter how much I love the patchouli, booze, and tobacco. That said, I can think of a number of men and quite a few women, either gourmand lovers or fans of Tobacco Vanille and Enigma/Creation-E, who would go quite gaga for the scent.
Veleno Doré changes in incremental steps over the next two hours. Roughly 60-75 minutes in, the fragrance turns even sweeter still. The vanilla becomes immensely sugary, just like the candied one in the later stages of Sensual & Decadent. However, it also remains somewhat boozy, thanks to the continued effects and presence of the patchouli and amber. The net-effect is a more sugared, vanillin-infused version of Bourbon vanilla mashed up with some ethyl maltol caramel, and it reminds me of Meukow Vanilla Cognac, only the emphasis is on the sugar and vanilla more than the cognac. The sweetness makes me wince a little, but at least it’s not as bombastic as the ten-decibel creme-caramel vanilla in fragrances like Profumum‘s Veritas. The tobacco keeps it in check from going full symphonic overload, as does the indirect effect of several amber-woody aromachemicals in the base which are starting to slowly awaken and rear their heads.
Roughly 1.75 hours in, the delineations between the different accords and central elements begin to blur. At the same time, the cherry starts to fade away and the tobacco turns darker, losing some of its “pipe tobacco” quality.
Roughly 2.25 to 2.5 hours in, the order, prominence, and nuances of the notes change quite noticeably and Veleno Doré starts to head in a very different direction than before. The chili makes a return, the vanilla weakens a hair, and the patchouli returns to second place, now smelling more woody than boozy. Its drier aroma is backed by strong smoky, leathery, cedary, and woody-smoke (aromachemical) elements seeping up from the base. I think they’re probably responsible for the vaguely grainy, powdery texture which now runs through the fragrance’s base. At this stage, I can’t pinpoint the exact identity of the synthetics, in large part because Veleno Doré is increasingly blurry in terms of its specifics and everything bleeds into one. Even so, the cumulative effect of all these changes pivots Veleno Doré quite dramatically, turning it significantly woodier, drier, smokier, less gourmand, and substantially, overwhelmingly, more oriental in character.
This is Veleno Doré’s long second or heart stage, and it is one which is increasingly centered on a smoky, woody-oriented tobacco bouquet. At the end of the 3rd hour and the start of the fourth, the grainy, smoky, and increasingly leathery aromachemicals shoot up from the base and arrive on center stage, wrapping around the tobacco and patchouli.
I’m once again reminded of other fragrances but, this time, they include Richard Ibanez’s prior creations for LM Parfums. What wafts from my skin more and more with every passing moment is a dark, spicy-dry, heavily wooded tobacco (à la Ambre Loup but, even more so, like the drier, woodier, smoky tobacco in Tabacco d’Autore from Farmacia SS Annunziata) drenched with an accord which he’s cannibalized from his earlier Black Oud, an extrait de parfum that was centered on rum, spices (including nutmeg), liqueured patchouli sweetness, labdanum, woody-amber synthetics, and a smoky, leathery, oud-like woodiness. (He also used a slightly similar rum, nutmeg spice, ambered leather, and dark woods/oud accord in Hard Leather, but that was not patchouli heavy or patchouli liqueured in scent and had loads of skanky animalics and sandalwood instead.) One could also consider this stage of Veleno Dore to be a pastiche of the leathery-woody-cypriol parts of Tom Ford‘s Patchouli Absolu, the dry woody-tobacco-amber parts of Tabacco d’Autore (minus its vetiver), and the chili-boozy cognac-smoky-woody opening parts of Amouage‘s Journey Man. Either one of these combinations would leave you in the general orbit of this stage of Veleno Doré.
Roughly 4.25 hours in, Veleno Dore turns even darker, drier, woodier, and more synthetic. The tobacco, liquered patchouli, spices, and ambered sweetness are now accompanied by almost equal measures of smoky leatheriness, woody leatheriness, and woody-amber aromachemicals. The fruity, sweet-dry, wood-driven, leathered smokiness is similar in aroma to the Norlimbanol accord/aroma found in Nasomatto’s famed Black Afgano, only much milder. It’s also milder than the Norlimbanol streaks found in Richard Ibanez’s Black Oud and Hard Leather (and also in Malefic Tattoo, a Norlimbanol-laced LM Parfum fragrance created by another perfumer). The Norlimbanol-like note in Veleno Doré, however, is only a light touch on my skin and it is overshadowed by other elements which resemble more closely the parched, arid, smoky, leathery-woody cypriol in Tom Ford‘s Patchouli Absolu and something more purely cedar-ambery as an aromachemical addition. That said and issues of degree or specific individual notes notwithstanding, I must say, I find the Black Afgano vibe to be a strong one. In terms of overall feel and sticky, sweet, dry, smoky, and intensely ambered darkness, I find this stage of Veleno Doré is much, much closer to the Nasomatto fragrance on my skin than the Tom Ford one or even Black Oud.
I can’t say I’m hopping up and down or frolicking in joy about any of it, but then this degree of woody-amber or synthetic inclusion is why LM Parfums lost my love some years back. I used to adore the brand until the heavy repetition of similarly scented aromachemicals and the increasingly derivative nature of the releases (releases which were issued in higher and higher numbers each year and at higher and higher prices) slowly turned me off entirely. It’s the same problem here. A great opening that leads into an increasingly derivative bouquet which ends up as a completely blurry, unremarkable, but aromachemical-heavy morass.
Veleno Doré doesn’t change substantially from the 4.25 hour mark onwards. The fragrance’s levels of dryness, smokiness, syrupy sweetness, booze, spice, and amber continuously fluctuate in strength and prominence, washing over the tobacco in solo or paired waves. Every now and then, other notes or nuances pop up briefly as accompaniments: the patchouli occasionally bears a chocolate-y aroma; there are passing gusts of cinnamon from the benzoin or spice mix; the vanilla sometimes bursts on the scene in clear form, wafting sugared vanillin and creme caramel tonalities; the smokiness sometimes bears a myrrh-like, incense-laden resinous subtext; and the woods/synthetics occasionally burst forth with an oud-like character, similar to the sort of synthetic “oud” which one finds in Westernized “oud” fragrances (and in LM Parfum’s Black Oud actually).
When Veleno Doré’s drydown begins roughly 7 hours in, the bouquet is, by and large, similar to the one in prior stage, except now it’s sweeter, more heavily ambered, and less dry. The leather, wood smoke, incense-ish smoke, and oud-ish/synthetic woody dryness are muffled, tamed, and enveloped by a rich, somewhat sweet and slightly syrupy cocoon of amber. The latter now smells more of labdanum than either benzoin or benzoin layered with ethyl maltol caramel, although vestiges of both remain subsumed within, right next to soft streaks of vanilla. Everything is blurry and amorphous, switching in emphasis from one moment to the next. At times, Veleno Doré smells mostly like an unlit cigar tobacco coated with liqueured patchouli (à la Black Oud) and vanilla, then encased in amber. At other times, however, there is only a simple, hazy, and completely amorphous swirl of spiciness, smoky sweetness, dry-sweet woodiness, liqueur, amber, tobacco-woodiness, and synthetic woody-amber smokiness. It’s nice, but would be nicer and more enjoyable still if the synthetic streaks were less overt and if the drydown didn’t feel quite so, well, to put it bluntly, quite so generic.
The final hours are even more unremarkable and undistinguished still, consisting of nothing more than an ordinary dry-sweet, spicy, smoky, synthetic woodiness. I realize that drydowns are rarely rock-and-roll bastions of complexity or fun, but this one feels singularly mundane or commonplace to me. I can find the same synthetic bouquet in a plethora of oriental, masculine mainstream designer and niche fragrances. At Veleno Doré’s luxury price point, I’d prefer something more interesting and a hell of a lot less synthetic. In short: eh.
Veleno Doré had good to fair projection, initially big sillage that took quite a while to turn soft, and excellent longevity. But then, I would expect nothing else from a pure parfum which has hefty amounts of aromachemicals in it. Using several generous smears on the same 3.5-inch patch of skin, roughly amounting to 2 good sprays from an actual bottle, the fragrance opened with about 4 to 5 inches of projection and sillage that extended 6-7 inches. Within 20 minutes, the sillage expanded and grew to just over a foot (12 inches). By the end of the first hour, when the richer, stronger vanilla, amber, caramel, and liqueured notes really ballooned, the scent cloud extended about two feet in length and halfway across the room. Having said that, the sillage drops substantially from the end of the 4th hour and the start of the 5th hour onwards. At that point, the cloud surrounding me shrinks to about 8 inches in radius; by the middle of the 6th hour, it’s about 5 inches, although the scent is exceedingly strong, rich, and powerful up close. The fragrance stays at those levels for quite a few hours until, suddenly, at the top of the 8th hour, Veleno Doré turns softer and clings closer to the body. Veleno Doré doesn’t turn into a skin scent until roughly 9.75 hours into its evolution but, even then, I can still detect its notes without the slightest effort if I bring my nose to my arm. Actual effort is needed only from the 14th hour onwards. In total, Veleno Doré lasts just short of 19 hours on my skin.
There aren’t a ton of reviews for Veleno Doré out there. Mark Behnke gave it a good one on Colognoisseur, writing that “it entices you into a den of earthly delights of rum, tobacco, and fruit.” On Fragrantica, there are three comments at the time of this post, but only two people have actually tried it and their comments are diametrically opposed:
- True luxury! The packaging is beautiful, black lacquered box with gold monogram which opens to reveal the bottle which is just as beautiful. Smells like tobacco and dark chocolate with spices. Gorgeous!
- What the heck is this?! I had a sample and even thinking about it makes me feel sick. I suppose it has all the elements that the note breakdown suggests, but they’re somehow so out of balance that it smells hideous. I’m unable to describe it accurately; weird, acrid, pungent, chemical, bugspray-like mess. Nothing beautiful or appealing here. I could’ve sworn there’s a hefty dose of very sharp and medicinal oud in it, but I guess not… Tobacco leaf seems to be a difficult note for me in many cases, so it might be the main culprit. Anyhow, to sum it up: a loud, resounding and horrified NO! 395 euros for this? That’s ludicrous. [¶] Of course, like all the nasties, it’s almost impossible to remove from your skin!
I had to laugh at the last comment because I knew exactly what its writer, “Duskfall,” meant since I’ve experienced similar issues with other LM Parfum releases (like the dreadful Malefic Tattoo and Scandinavian Crime/Unique Russia) not to mention some Orto Parisi, Nasomatto, and Ajmal fragrances. So he or she has my complete and utter sympathy.
That said, I think the best, fullest, and most complete way to view Veleno Doré is to combine that Duskfall Fragrantica review with Mark Behnke’s comments, because both things hold true simultaneously with this fragrance. Mr. Behnke is largely dead-on about Veleno Doré’s broadest basics when he writes that the fragrance:
opens with the tobacco and rum providing two prongs of narcotic bliss. The rum is boozy and smooth. The tobacco is the smell of dried leaf cured in the drying barn a slight bit of mentholated grace note flitting through the deeply sweet essence. This is the scent of a fine Corona cigar and snifter of 5-star rum. A pinch of spice provides some texture as chili pepper and nutmeg bring forward some of the rawer and sweeter aspects of the central notes. The transition to the base is signaled by a black cherry note which is intense as a dried form of the actual fruit is. It rises out of the rum and tobacco and carries them into a vanilla base. Here it turns into a gourmand style of fragrance with the vanilla coating the rum, tobacco, and black cherry. The later drydown features the warmth of patchouli and amber.
However, judging by my experience and that of poor Duskfall, I think one has to view many of these aromas and developments through a thick filter of aromachemicals, particularly as the fragrance develops from the second hour onwards. Will it end up smelling like bug-spray on your skin or bothering you as much as it did Duskfall? Well, that part will be completely individual to you, your nose, your sensitivities, and what nuances are amplified on your skin. I will only say that prior LM Parfums have left me far more aghast than Duskfall’s reaction here and that I not only scrubbed them but also wrote blistering reviews for them, and yet Veleno Doré was really quite enjoyable in comparison.
I grant you, maybe my standards for trauma are warped after LM Parfums’ Aldehyx and Unique Russia, both of which warranted the complete fanged, snarling, attacking German Shepherd photo comparison to encapsulate the degree of my revulsion, horror, and contempt (and Malefic Tattoo wasn’t much better, if you ask me) but Veleno Doré is actually quite nice on my skin when taken as a whole and when not examined too closely. I realize that is rather a backhanded compliment, but how could I not mildly or moderately enjoy something which includes so many favourite notes and which also overlaps with some much-loved fragrances?
I think that, for everyone but those highly sensitive to strong aromachemicals, the real and greater issue with Veleno Dore is potential redundancy at its high price point. Let’s face it, at the end of the day, there are no truly unique, completely original fragrances any more, but that doesn’t mean people want to spend a ton of money for something with major overlap with the fragrances that they already own. And, frankly, anyone who is a major tobacco fan or who adores tobacco layered with a spicy, boozy, vanilla-laced, gourmand, honeyed, patchouli, woody and/or ambered notes is already going to own at least a handful of the fragrances mentioned here. Off the top of my head, I can think of more than 30 people I know who own either Enigma/Creation-E and Tobacco Vanilla or Enigma and Ambre Loup, while a whole host of others own some combination of Ambre Loup, Tobacco Vanille, Journey Man, Black Oud, Back to Black, and/or Black Afgano.
Yes, it’s absolutely true, there is no one, single fragrance which marries different strains of all these fragrances together into one as Veleno Doré does and, yes, that can be a huge plus for fans of those scents because they’re getting multiple favourites in one sitting, but that’s when I think we need to consider the second part of the equation: price.
Veleno Doré costs €395 for a 100 ml bottle. At today’s rate of currency exchange, that comes to $488 or £342. It’s not cheap. At all. Granted, Veleno Doré is 100 ml of pure parfum which lasts a donkey’s age and has huge initial sillage, but is $488 worth it when it may replicate a number of other fragrances that some of you own?
Ultimately, both that and the potential problem of egregiously overt aromachemicals (à la Duskfall above) will be completely subjective matters that will depend entirely on each person’s personal tastes, note sensitivities, budget, and existing scent collections.
There is an added wrinkle that people must factor into their decision-making process as well: accessibility. Outside of Eastern or Central Europe, Russia, or parts of the Middle East, the brand appears to be less widely available than it once was, and that applies to new releases like this fragrance in particular. In going through my old list of LM Parfums retailers for the Details section below, I saw that more and more of the tried and true sites in Europe and the US seemed to have dropped the brand. Others only had the oldest releases. In the US, I’d noticed some time ago that the two LM Parfums retailers, Luckyscent and Osswalds NYC, had ceased to offer the new releases over the last 18 months to 2 years, but today I saw that their old stock had either dwindled down to just two fragrances (Luckyscent) or were slashed in price for a quick sale (Osswalds NYC). Meanwhile, big European stockists like First in Fragrance, Jovoy, and Essenza Nobile no longer show any fragrances from the brand on their website. Neither do some smaller European shops. While Laurent Mazzone has his own big retailing arm with his Premiere Avenue website and arguably doesn’t need any European shops to carry his line, that never stopped his earlier driving interest and eagerness in being carried from Paris to Germany, Belgium, Los Angeles, New York and beyond.
Something’s changed. I don’t know what it is, but I have to wonder whether it is related to the drop in niche perfumista interest following the brand’s large number of mediocre releases from 2015 and 2016 onwards. My guess is that the new fragrances simply don’t sell as the earlier ones once did, in part due the brand’s skyrocketing price points, so stockists are just not putting in orders.
Niche perfumery is a very competitive market, so frequent missteps can taint a brand. There was a time, back in 2013 or even late 2014, when things were quite different for LM Parfums and there was endless buzz about the company. Back then, real niche lovers talked constantly about it or eagerly waited the new releases, both men and women alike. I was hardly the only who loved it. I know suburban housewives who loved the skank of Hard Leather, city men who raved about the heady floral oriental grandeur of Sensual Orchid, and vice-versa. There were people of both genders and from all backgrounds who adored Black Oud, Ambre Muscadin, or the chypre Army of Lovers. And the company went from having no US stockists to suddenly having two who bought every new release right away in large quantities.
These days, though, I don’t hear even a whisper about LM Parfums. Not a single person ever writes to me to ask about it and, believe me, I get emails about every sort of brand imaginable, big and small. The last time I recall a perfumista acquaintance speaking to me about LM Parfums was around late 2015, and that hardcore, niche-obsessed, new-release-eager aficionado did so with an incredibly bored, nonchalant shrug. He said he simply couldn’t deal any more with the increasingly synthetic-heavy nature of the fragrances, the increasingly derivative scent profiles, the large number of releases each year, the sharply shooting prices, and at the over-the-top hyperbolic marketing or PR text which seemed to grow more nonsensical with every launch.
Those problems persist to this day, in my opinion, and they are also a big reason why I’ve been unmotivated even to obtain samples, let alone rush to write about them. But I like Veleno Doré more than the last four things which I’ve tried from the brand, a lot more, although that may not be saying much given how heinous I found the last ones. Yes, there are caveats and problems galore with Veleno Doré, and no, I wouldn’t buy a bottle for myself, not even if it were significantly cheaper. In fact, I wouldn’t wear the fragrance even if it were given to me for free, due to the completely unbalanced degree of sweetness at one stage and its excess of synthetics at another. That said, Veleno Doré was quite fun and enjoyable to test — so long as I didn’t sniff my arm up close too often…
Man, I really sound like someone suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. I can hear it in my words. I also recognize that I’m damning with the very faintest of praise but, really, I mean it sincerely when I say that, from afar, the voluminous, powerful cloud surrounding me was unexpectedly lovely and delicious with its mix of booze, fruited pipe tobacco, patchouli, gourmandise, vanilla, spice, smoke, woods, and amber.
The question is whether it’s worth the rather ridiculous €395/almost $500 price, the derivative redundancy, and the overt synthetics? For me, most definitely not. But I would actually recommend a test sniff to several guys I know who have tastes similar to mine but no problems with synthetics (or luxury purchases). In all cases, though, please test first and do not blind buy if you can help it.